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Dr A W 'Bill' Frankland MBE (1912-2020)

2 April 2020

The College is greatly saddened to note the death of Honorary Fellow and Old Member Dr A W ‘Bill’ Frankland MBE on 2 April 2020. Bill was a remarkable man whose long career in medicine helped transform our understanding of allergies. A pioneer in the field, he popularised the pollen count to help clinicians and patients understand what triggers their seasonal allergies.

When Bill arrived at the College in 1930 to read Physiological Sciences, the College still brewed its own beer and Magrath was the Provost. The College flag flew just two weeks ago to celebrate Bill’s 108th birthday; he was Oxford's oldest alumnus. Crediting his longevity to luck, he always had a fascinating story to share when he attended College events, including how he could count Saddam Hussein among his patients and Sir Alexander Fleming among his colleagues. He had also been a Japanese prisoner of war but this was something he only spoke about in the last few years of his life.

Bill was also a graduate of St Mary’s Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College London). He was a founder and president of what’s now known as the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology and vice president of the International Association of Aerobiology. He was president of the Anaphylaxis Campaign and, in 2015, was awarded an MBE for services to allergy research.  He also published a number of notable papers, including the findings of a study of vaccines used in the treatment of asthma, which was published when he was just a junior registrar.  His most recent academic paper was published in 2019.

Bill was made an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2012.  He once said, ‘The nicest thing that’s ever happened to me – aside from the day my late wife accepted my marriage proposal – was when I became an Honorary Fellow of my college, the Queen’s College, at Oxford. I was delighted with that honour and it gives me the opportunity to attend some lovely events from time to time.’

The College was just as delighted and proud to be able to name Bill among its Honorary Fellows.

You can find out more about Bill’s extraordinary life in a piece by current Medical Fellow Professor Chris O’Callaghan on page five of the 2012 College Newsletter and also in the more recently published biography by Paul Watkins, From Hell Island to Hay Fever - The Life of Dr Bill Frankland.  

(Photo: Bill receiving his MBE in 2015)